Different Places, Different Paces

, , , , | Right | November 16, 2018

(A customer calls from London because he needs some help checking in for his flight back to Athens.)

Customer: “Hello. I’m trying to check in online but the site is not working right.”

Me: “I’m afraid the online check-in service will be available four hours from now.”

Customer: “Is it four hours in Greek time or English time?”

Me: “You know, time doesn’t work like that.”

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STOP! And Get Out

, , , , , | Learning | October 15, 2018

(I’ve just finished a driving lesson. The instructor has me drive the car to where we’ll pick up another student, and then he’ll drive me home, a short distance away. I’m in the back seat, while the instructor is in the front passenger seat, which has another set of pedals.)

Instructor: “Remember: before crossing another street, slow the car, and look to see if any others are coming. If there’s a STOP sign, stop the car entirely. Understood?”

Student: “Yes, of course.”

(He starts driving. At some point we’re about to cross a semi-big street, with a STOP sign facing us, but the car shows no signs of slowing. Just when I think the other student is going to cross without looking, the car suddenly stops. At first I think the other student has remembered to stop a bit late, but then I look at him. He glances around us for a few moments, then down at his pedals, then at the instructor, looking entirely confused.)

Student: “What just happened?”

(The instructor had used his own brake to stop the car. I walked the rest of the way.)

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Euro No No

, , , , | Right | October 1, 2018

(I am on vacation in Santorini, Greece with a few friends, exploring the town. There is a vendor selling noise-makers and other cute children’s toys on a mat in the square outside a church. An American woman is with her small child, who is playing with the toys, and the following exchange occurs.)

Customer: “I guess we’ll take one of these bouncy balls. How much?”

Vendor: “Three.”

Customer: *hands the man an American $10 bill* “Here you go.”

Vendor: “I can’t take this.”

Customer: “Why not? You said it was three dollars.”

Vendor: “No, euros.”

Customer: “What?! Why didn’t you say so? I don’t have any euros. Just take this. You can even keep the change.”

Vendor: “This is not America; I don’t take American money.”

Customer: “Okay, here’s a card.”

Vendor: “No, euros only.”

(This goes on for a bit, the woman getting angrier. The vendor eventually shakes his head in a final “no,” and she storms off towards us.)

Customer: “Could you believe him?! I can’t believe he wouldn’t take my money.”

Me: “Well, we are… you know… in Greece…”

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It May Be All Greek To Me But I Understood

, , , , , | Working | July 9, 2018

(While our family is German, my sister’s fiancé is Greek and moved to Germany with his whole family due to the Greek economy crisis. They went back to their home in Greece for a month in summer and invited my sister to join them for her summer holiday. It’s also important to note that my sister’s fiancé is very white, blonde, and blue-eyed, and doesn’t look typically Greek at all but rather Scandinavian. The two of them are out shopping. My sister does not speak Greek, and relies on her fiancé to translate or just speaks English. They are currently in a small clothing store. My sister wants to try on some shoes while her fiancé has gone elsewhere.)

Sister: “Excuse me, do you have these in [size]?”

Employee: “I think we do! Give me a moment; I’ll check in the back.”

(She comes back with the shoes in the correct size and my sister tries them on, but they don’t fit very well.)

Sister: “I like how they look, but they’re too narrow at the front and loose in the back. Do you maybe have something similar in a wider cut?”

(The employee is very polite and professional, and proceeds to show her several similar pairs. However, all of them are lacking a specific detail that the other shoe had and my sister liked very much. She doesn’t know how to describe it in English, though. Just then, her fiancé shows up with a few shirts he wants to buy.)

Fiancé: *in German* “Hi, babe, how’s it going? Did you find anything?”

(He kisses her.)

Fiancé: *to employee* “Hi!”

Employee: *to fiancé* “Hello, sir. Did you find everything all right?”

Sister: *in German* “[Fiancé]! I’ve been looking for shoes with [detail], but I don’t know how to say it in English! Can you translate it for me?”

(She then explains in German what she couldn’t say in English. Her fiancé proceeds to translate it to Greek for the employee. When he starts speaking Greek, the employee’s eyes go wide and her whole demeanour changes.)

Employee: *speaks rapidly in Greek, gesticulating wildly*

Fiancé: *answers in Greek, brows furrowed*

Employee: *more gesticulating, bats her eyes at [Fiancé]*

Fiancé: *shoves his shirts into the employee’s arms, says something in Greek angrily, and puts his arm around [Sister]*

Fiancé: *in German* “Come on, honey. We’re leaving.”

(He then pulls her out of the store. The employee yells something in Greek after them. Now outside, my sister asks what happened in the store.)

Fiancé: “When the employee realized I was Greek and you couldn’t understand us, she offered to sell everything to me without tax and receipt. I refused. She then called it a ‘special discount’ and started hitting on me, right next to you. She also said some racist things about Germans being greedy and taking all our money, and that I’d be better off without you. I told her to go f*** herself and her ‘discount.’”

(He looks at my sister and laughs.)

Fiancé: “After all, I love you, and your father is a tax accountant!”

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Cashier: Refund Thyself

, , , , | Working | June 20, 2018

(I am out shopping in a clothing store find four items I like. I decide to buy them and even make small talk with [Cashier #1] — and [Cashier #2] who is right next to her — as she completes the sale. On my way out, the alarm goes off and the security girl finds that [Cashier #1] forgot to remove one of the security tags from a shirt. As I have worked as a cashier, I know how easily something like this can happen, and go back so they can remove it.)

Me: “Hey, you forgot to take the safety tag off one of my items.” *smiling, presenting both my bag of purchases and my receipt*

Cashier #1: *without looking at my receipt* “Yeah, that happened because you never paid me for that.”

Me: “Actually, I did, about two minutes ago. You can also scan the item and my receipt to make sure.”

Cashier #1: “No, I remember you.”

Me: *thinking she actually remembered on her own* “So, how about getting the tag so I can go?” *still smiling*

Cashier #1: “I remember you. You never paid for this. Now give it back before I call the police on you for stealing!”

Me: *starting to feel embarrassed, as she accused me of stealing in a shop full of people* “Could you just take one look at my receipt? I paid for all my purchases; you were the one who rang me up!”

Cashier #2: “She is right, [Cashier #1]; you rang up that shirt. I was right next to you and I saw her paying.”

Cashier #1: “No, she didn’t! What are you trying to do, [Cashier #2]? Help her steal? I bet that everything she wears is either stolen or secondhand!”

(I am kind of underdressed today, wearing jeans and a hoodie. I usually wear business clothes, but I am just out to run some errands.)

Cashier #2: “[Cashier #1]! You can’t say that! And you can’t be rude to our customers! Now take a look at her receipt and remove the d*** tag!”

Cashier #1: “NO! SHE IS A THIEF! SHE STOLE THIS SHIRT!”

(The manager appears to see why there is yelling at the checkout lines.)

Manager: “What is the matter here?”

Cashier #1: *smirking* “No big deal. This b**** tried to steal a shirt and wasn’t happy that I stopped her!”

Me: *already crying from embarrassment* “I never stole anything! You accused me, insulted me, and refused to look at my receipt!”

Cashier #2: “It’s true, [Manager]. The lady has paid for her shirt; I can confirm that.”

Manager: “Miss, may I see you receipt, please?”

Me: “Yes.” *hand over receipt and bag* “You can also check I don’t have another one in there.”

(The manager checks the bag, the receipt, and the shirt.)

Manager: *probably trying to smooth out the situation* “Well, it seems like there was a misunderstanding. I am terribly sorry about all this. [Cashier #1], this lady has paid for all her purchases, just the cashier who rang her up forgot to take off this tag. You should always check the receipt before making accusations! Now, miss, do you remember who your cashier was? I must remind her to double-check for tags.”

Me: “Yes, it was [Cashier #1].”

Manager: *furious now* “Please let me get this straight, [Cashier #1]. You rang her up and you forgot to remove a tag. And when she came back, you accused her of stealing the item and insulted her. Is this true?”

Cashier #1: “I… erm… Well, look at her! She looks like a d*** [Romani slur]!”

Manager: “[Cashier #1]! OFFICE! NOW! Miss, we are terribly sorry for all this.”

Me: “I accept your apologies, but can I ask you for a favour, sir?”

Manager: “Of course!”

Me: “Could you make out a gift card to [Cashier #2]? Honestly, she is your best cashier. She stood up for me to [Cashier #1], and got yelled at by [Cashier #1] for me. I really want to thank her.”

Manager: “Of course, miss!”

(I never saw [Cashier #1] there again, but I see [Cashier #2] when I shop there and she recently got promoted to manager!)

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